It’s always a rare occurrence when I respect something that prominently features the Indianapolis Colts, but Stampede Blue’s last article on Peyton Manning’s contract draws too many parallels to Tom Brady’s situation to overlook.
GM of the Colts Bill Polian told WEEI that, “What we don’t know is what the system [CBA] is going forward. It makes it really difficult working out a deal that makes sense for everybody because you don’t know what the [salary] cap will be, what the ramifications are, how things count. All of that makes it a little difficult. We’ve been going slowly along with [Manning's agent] Tom Condon because we’re trying to formulate some things that will fit no matter what the system is.”
While Bill Belichick would rarely be so forthcoming in a media interview (rightly so), it is powerful to hear a prominent GM in a similar situation say that they are going to wait to get into the details of the contract until a new CBA is forged.
Working under the current CBA, the Colts and Patriots face myriad problems in signing their franchise quarterbacks. The 30% rule, which prohibits the rapid escalation of salaries, is only the first issue. There are no true roster or option bonuses available, meaning that all guaranteed money must be given in an upfront signing bonus. When you are talking about $30-40 million dollars, that gambit is potentially dangerous on the injury and salary cap fronts.
If the CBA rules would change in 2011 and include a hard cap, that large signing bonus could be a disaster, depending on how the rules read. That said, Brady has been more than willing to change his contract for salary cap reasons, although not diminish it.
It’s clear that #12 isn’t happy about making $3.5 million in 2010, that situation isn’t like to change until the impasse between the NFL and NFLPA can clear itself up. If the labor situation continues in its current course, the possibility of a franchise tag in 2011 is an all too likely scenario for Brady.